Maggie and I set out again for another run at the North Loop. This is her third, my second time heading up. It has altitude and steepness. Two things we need in preparation for the looming trek. First, thanks to Jim, her husband, for being so kind as to lend her to me today, the start of his fabulous birthday weekend!
So up we went and this time no hot spots on my heels. It is a steep 3 miles to the Raintree, a 3000 year old Bristle-cone Pine yes…I will wait while you read it again but it is true! The first section was much easier than last weekend. We hit the boyscout camp and had a snack and a rest and a great visit. Then we hit the 7 sets of switchbacks! I am not gonna lie. This was a grueling section designed to brake me. And at several spots it nearly did. Today, Maggie decided to hang back with me and with my slow pace, that gave her a chance to drink in the beauty of the trail. For me, as always, it was hard work. But that is what I signed up for.
A lot of the Bristle-cones are dead either from past fire or just life going out of them. The strike an ominous pose. They are so cool and eerie to look at! Reminds me of Tim Burton movie art! Who knows, maybe he hiked these hills!
Once we got to the ridge which sits about 10,000 feet we rested again. I told Maggie I did not think I had any in the tank to drop down to the tree and come back up for our ultimate decent. But she kept encouraging me that that leg was nothing like the murderous switchbacks we had just finished. So I bit and dow to the rain tree we went. And I am so glad for her prodding me on because it truly is the tree of a lifetime!
We left there and all our media was threatening to die, so we hoofed it back without stops for additional pictures. It was a long day. A good day. One that gave lots of information to us for the final preparations for our IncaTrek!
Here are some more sights of the day…ENJOY!
As I posted last time, we have shirts that you can buy to wear in support of our efforts in Peru. These are designed especially for our trek and we are selling them at the cost it takes to print them. Depending on the style, as low as $14.00 each! A Hanes hoodie is only $26.00. Still a few days to get your order in before we have to cut it off for printing. You can order them here.
We know that people often like to plan trips and sometimes cannot always fit them in to their schedule or budget. So we have a couple interactive events to hopefully draw you in to all the fun. I will be blogging live on the trip, though it will be a bit more silent while on the trail due to lack of signal. That is a buzz kill. But worry not! I will get word out somehow!
EVENT 1: TOAST TWO AT DEAD WOMAN’S PASS
The first interactive event is on Wednesday September 3, 2014. If you order a shirt, put that thing on and get out and take a selfie of you and your friends. You can post to WhelanTrek on Facebook, My page or even just post. Be sure to use this hashtag; #incatrek2014 so we can gather them all up. Tweet me @WhelanTrek and hashtag it too. Send us a message. That will be one rough day of hiking so knowing you are all back here wearing your shirts and toasting 5,000 feet of elevation gain will speer us on. Even if you cannot or did not get a shirt, post away!
EVENT 2: GET WRECKED AT THE RUINS
This takes place on Friday, September 5, 2014. On this date we arrive at the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. That will be an emotionally filled day where we arrive, contemplate all it has taken to get there and think back on the planning and what motivated each of us to actually go. I had told myself that after dad had passed, I was going to go there so there will be a sadness knowing what had to happen to trigger this trip. But I will have him with me on my hat! I will also know that I struggled more on the trip because of my struggle with my weight and all that means in who I am. But I
will have accomplished something I never would have thought in my lifetime that I could do. Both physically and financially. I am blessed and want to share that feeling with you all on this event. So get your shirts, get a glass, fill it and KNOCK IT BACK! No shirt? get wrecked anyway and send us a message like the previous event. I am going to gather them all together and make a little book for Maggie and I to remember our trip and all the support from back home. You can post to WhelanTrek on Facebook, My page or even just post. Be sure to use this hashtag; #incatrek2014 so we can gather them all up. Tweet me @WhelanTrek and hashtag it too. Send us a message. Huq ratukama! (See you later)
So my friend Sonya Vasilief designed us a shirt for the trek. We launched a campaign on Teespring. Teespring is a site where you can put up a shirt, set a minimum sale and if you don’t meet it, you can walk away…nobody is out a dime. We set ours up at the cost Teespring charged for the shirt and printing. I am quite happy about the shirts! We have v-neck tees, long sleeved tees, hoodies and woman’s fitted tees. You can get them in white or grey. We have ten days to hit the minimum (or go over) and then it is sealed and printed. IF you want one and live in Vegas, you can save on shipping as you can just pick them up from me. Here is the link to order INCATREK 2014 SHIRTS.
This is the back of the shirt. It actually shows the mileage per day, the altitude we are at and where we sleep. This is an INTERACTIVE shirt because when we are encouraging shirt purchasers to wear their shirt for two events.
1) TOAST TWO ON DEAD WOMAN’ PASS on Wednesday night September 3, 2014. That will be to celebrate our conquering the near 14,000 foot elevation we will cross during that day’s hike,
2) GET WRECKED AT THE RUINS on Friday, September 4, 2014. That night, we will have completed all of the more than 30 miles and cray cray elevation us and downs of the trip. So once we are safe at our hotel at Agua Cliente, we will be relaxing with a coooooool libation and would like you to join us.
So on those two days, wear your shirts and join us by posting on our Facebook page at WhelanTrek or comment here at the blog.
Time is limited as the campaign ends August 10, 2014 so that the shirts can get sent out in time to interact with us! Thanks for all the support we are getting for this event. We love the encouragement an are looking forward to reporting all of the real time excitement back to you!
Maggie and I took a lunch run over to the outlet mall yesterday to the Columbia store and picked up a couple items at stellar prices. We talked about the upcoming weekend hikes we will be doing up at Mt. Charleston between now and departure to get a little altitude in.
I have been going over the list provided by Mountain Madness to see what I already have and what I yet need to get. They state in their materials you must have everything on the list. When I went to Mt. Everest in 2012, I packed way too much. But I noticed today that aside from what we carry on our own backs for the day, the duffel our porter carries can only be 11 pounds! That is by Peruvian regulation! (He carries 44 pounds, so carries two people’s stuff and his own. We each are allowed 5 kilo’s of that space, so 11 pounds). That includes sleeping bag and sleeping pad. My Mountain Hardwear Lamina 35 weighs 2 pounds one once on its own! Add to that my Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite pad is 12.7 oz.! With that gobbling up almost three pounds, all my cloths and electronics cannot weigh more than 7 more pounds.
Some Quechua words I already knew but did not know their origin are: Condor, and Guano. Also Jerkey is Quechua for dried flesh. Then there are Puma, Quinoa and Cocaine…all Quechua as well.
I am told the people will speak Spanish and many will speak English. But half the fun is interacting with them on their terms as well.
So the last month push continues and it is an intense time of training, packing, evaluating and building excitement toward that day we board our American Airline plane and head off into the unknown. ¡Huq ratukama! (See you later)!
A couple years before I was born, my Grandfather and Grandmother Tarr (Moms parents) opened a resort at Baker Lake in Washington state. It was a fishing resort called Tarr’s Resort. It would be the central gathering point during the summer for the family through 1975, when my grandfather died there on the eve of selling it. It was rustic yet sparkling clean and tidy. There were “old” cabins from a location up lake that Grandpa hauled down to the new location and he also built several new cabins. In all, there were 13 cedar walled units and tons of camping spots. As kids it was a great place to explore the woods, learn about bears, pick huckleberries and swim in the glacier fed waters. A typical memory I have of “the lake” is gathering there
with extended family. As the adults reveled and told stories and ate and drank, we kids played outside late into the night. We would hear the voices of the adults as we scurried around the area hunting bullfrogs and creeping through the woods on the look out for the bears that frequently came in to get food from campers. It is where my love of being in the woods began.
We were given much latitude while there. My grandfather was not a fan of wimpy sniveling kids. He was a tough guy logger with a huge sense of humor. I loved every minute I spent with him. I would help him make “fish food” that campers bought to chum the fish into biting their line. I dug worms, repaired buildings, bailed and cleaned boats, pumped gasoline into five gallon cans for the vast amount of time there was no generator running to power the place. Grandma was quiet and worked nonstop. I helped her clean cabins, make meals, bake pies, pick berries, pull weeds, wash cloths in an old wringer washer and do the dishes. Hard work was not lacking in my family and it is one of the lessons for which I am most grateful .
The last time I was at the lake was in 2007. By then the Forest Service had taken over the resort and ran it. The amenities were dilapidated, but you could not take away the beauty of the lake. And sitting at the campfire with over 20 family members I had enjoyed that place wit was one of the best things ever. And when I went away, I was contented by the experiences there that had formed part of who I am.
My brother went to climb Mount Baker this week. He had no desire to go to the location where the resort once was. His pilgrimage would take him up on the mountain that looked over us all those years. And while epic rain at base camp meant lots of snow up higher and too much likelihood of avalanche to attempt the summit, he was excited to have been there battling the elements.
There are places we go in our lives that become such a part of us that it is impossible to remove the memory of them. The smells and sounds are conjurable upon demand. Tarr’s Resort, Baker Lake is my childhood in so many ways. With the passing of so many who made it that, I find myself traveling back there in my mind ever so much more. If only to hear and see them all again in my mind’s eye.
Today was a fun day trying something I have not done before. Garage Gym 702 workout was at Lake Las Vegas where we did SUP or Stand-Up Paddle Boarding with SUPLV I have been wanting to do it for a long time. I have read a lot about them and know that because I am no small girl, I would need a big flat one to do my best. Especially having never done it. I saw they had on and tried to claim it. But when the instructor got to me they said no, you need a smaller one and put me on a nice sports car looking one where I thought I was more of a 7o’s era station wagon boarder. But they are the experts so I do what I am told.
It was a wobbly proposition and as I was attempting to stand it was very hard to keep the board stable. I wobbled and wobbled and paddled and flailed until finally I was sailing through the air and into the briny deep. Well, the lake at least. As I came up from the depths the same person who told me I needed the small board had a wonderful and original idea….how about trying the bigger flatter board!!!! Thangs that make ya go huh.
Well up I went and this time I could actually keep up and the board moved through the water with ease. I had some five-toes footwear on and my Go-pro in my packet. Luckily it did not fall out when I took the plunge! I paddled confidently round the harbor, choosing not to go out into the chop as I knew the prospects of remounting the board in deeper water were zilch. It was a great feeling of all sorts of micro movement of my stabilizing muscles. Really working those out. My calf muscles too! Despite tons of walking and working out, and though my quads and arms and core were not feeling overly worked out, my calf muscles began to bur as if someone was lighting them with a blow torch.
After a good hard workout around the lagoon, I paddled in to the beach and then took an= relaxing swim. It was a fun day and after we were all safe and sound on land, we headed to The Omelet House for a great time of breakfast and craic! (Craic is Irish for fun talk and banter). There were about 12 of us and it was really an enjoyable time.
As the day wore on and I was doing stuff around The Doll House, I began to feel more and more of my core and shoulders reminding me of my morning of fun. By bedtime I knew that the morning must have been a lot more fun than I first realized. I took a walk in the light of the Super Moon and stretched things out a bit before bedtime. It was a great day in the Vegas Valley. Low 100’s and less humid than the previouse monsoooooony week. I slept like a log and am ready to start my 75 squats for the day and see what else I can do to stay out of trouble.
Several years ago, when I first started my Facebook account, I reacquainted with many old friends from Seattle. I had already decided I was going to do the Everest Base Camp Trek before that. So when I got on Facebook, I moved some of my hike stories over and started doing Facebook “NOTES” on each of my preparatory hikes. Then I migrated them to the blogs.
One friend I reconnected with was Sonya Vasilief. We met in 7th grade home room. She was a “V” and I was a “W” so we were destined to be in homeroom together for the rest of school. Well, as long as we had home rooms at any rate. I don’t recall having them in High School.
After getting back to talking on Facebook and the Phone, Sonya came down to Vegas to visit me in 2011. We had great fun and one of the days she was here we did the Calico Tanks hike out at the Red Rock National Conservation Area. It is a pretty little hike. Not too long, not too hard but the payoff views are great.
Around that same time I was also getting re-acquainted with an old school chum, Lee Markesun. He was a year older than I and we shared the same birthday. We would talk about music and he would tell me about his life and how much I
would like his wife if I ever met her. She was doing a lot of biking and really enjoying it. So she and I became friends on Facebook. Almost a year had passed since Sonya’s visit and she we talked about her coming down again. for 2012. We also talked about including Lee’s wife Kelli. So that fall the two of them came down. We did the tourist thing and also did that Calico Tanks hike again. We all became fast friends and it was almost as if Kelli had been part of our life growing up too.
The next year, 2013, Kelli and Sonya came back. But this time we didn’t do any tourist stuff. Instead, we took off to Death Valley for a day of hiking and watching. After that 14 hour day, we were back snug in our Beds at The Doll House so that we could get up VERY early and go Kayak 12 miles down Black Canyon below the Hoover (Boulder) Dam. It was two days of soooo much fun! We were barely done before we were planning the next year.
In 2013 we decided that we would do some things around town and then head up early one morning to Zion and hike the famous Narrows, coming back that night. It was an ambitious undertaking. This time we added my work friend Maggie. Maggie will be going with me to Machu Picchu in 2014. It was a short hiking window by the time we drove up, got our gear and got into the park. And from there you had to take a park bust to the trail head. Up we went and it was UH-MAZE-ING! We didn’t make it all the way up before our turnaround time, but all in all we got in six or so miles in the river rock and water!
The Three Amigas, to me, Is not me, Sonya and Kelli as much as it is Sonya Kelli and Maggie being cherished friends to me. You can count your friends on one hand. These gals are part of a very small group of people that I really do hold in the biggest part of my friend compartment of my heart. TREK ON MY FRIENDS! ARRRRRIBA!
I grew up in the south end of Seattle. In what, in 1993, became officially the city of Burien. It is a great little part of the country. Water on one side, mountains on the other. Seattle to the north and Tacoma to the south. Our neighborhood was a working class neighborhood. We lived on 142nd street in a rental house for ten years. The septic system would often back up. It was a sparse existence. It was heated with oil. But sometimes we couldn’t fill the tank. My parents had started us out in California where we lived in a new house in a new neighborhood with new cars and new schools. Then dad got sick and was out of work for almost a year. They lost everything. First the cars, then the house. That is how we ended up back in Seattle. I arrive just in time to start first grade . We didn’t have money for school cloths so Mom made us each a couple of dresses and bought us a package of new underwear and socks. It was quite hard on them. She got a job cooking at a Catholic boys home and Dad started driving big rigs. Those were the occupations they would have the rest of their lives.
Mom and Dad worked hard. they never called in sick. They never went to a doctor despite the fact that in the 60’s and 70’s Dad’s Teamster insurance was absolutely stellar. But we used it sparingly. No sense of being entitled but knew it as a benefit we would not take for granted or abused. Dad had witnessed awful death in the Korean War when he was 17 and 18. Now he worked and he tried hard to provide for his little family.
I was a silly little kid. I really never “got” what struggles Mom and Dad had trying to restart the family in Washington. How Dad must have felt losing everything he had worked for and how Mom worried about us all.
Dad really wanted us all to go to college. But in our neighborhood, it didn’t seem likely. Most people got jobs at the “Lazy B” aka Boeing. Good jobs. But Dad wanted college. So one by one each of us jumped in. I started Central Washington University in the Fall of 79. But I lacked real direction. And after several changes in my major, and schools, I simply faded into life at the corn cannery. I got married and was happy. But we, too, did not have a lot of financial means.
Back in California, before everything changed, I used to watch television with my mother in the morning before going to the afternoon session of my kindergarten class. (NOT KIN-DEE-GARDEN). We watched Perry Mason every day. I loved the court room stuff. I thought to myself that i wanted to be a lawyer. That prosecutor, Hamilton Burger doesn’t seem to win. Ever. I would try hard to win! But as life in Seattle and the bleakness of it settled in, I convinced myself I did not have the money or the brains to become an attorney. And the dream shrank to a small pit of regret in my stomach.
During my adult life in Ellensburg, I made the best of things. I loved being married and was generally happy. I always thought if I had only gotten my education I could provide more for our household. But stabs at this job and that job simply yielded a minimum of earnings. And then the divorce. The lowest time of my life other than the loss of my mother.
I went to Las Vegas where my father and brother lived. Joe had moved in 90 and Dad had gone in 94 after mom passed and he sold the house. I got a job selling D paper loans for Household Finance. I left there to sell long distance for a company that ended up nothing more than a call center full of shysters ripping people off and loving it. Then I went to Starbucks. None of these jobs paid enough to even exist. So I decided I had to reinvent myself. I had to do something! I went to Paralegal School and got a good job. Then I finished my undergrad in 2002 through WSU’s distance learning program. After that I got into law school. and as I sit here today, July 4, 2014 have been doing Hamilton Burger’s job for 6 years.
So what is the point of all this? Well, as I sat in the warm sun today, it occurred to me just what a person can do in this country. What millions of people come here for. The chance to make of their own lives what they desire to. It doesn’t just happen. It takes planning and work. It takes time and sacrifice. And it takes the sacrifice of military men and women in every war since the revolution. But it is also something that you can do any time in your life if you are willing to take the chance and not let the fear of change stop you. Live your dreams. Find out what you want and make a plan to get there. That is what Independence Day has given to me. Dreams……and the ability to pursue them!
Paul Fussell wrote that the speed of modern travel resulted in the mind being left behind. Without even knowing about what he wrote I somehow already realized that fact. But it is not practical to revert back to forms of primitive travel in order to get the mind right for an upcoming adventure. I have heard people really love cruise vacations where they are on ship and then arrive at ports of call and tour them. Perhaps the subliminal reason for the additional enjoyment is this very thing.
I have compensated for this by reading about my destinations for a long time leading up to departure. Everest was easy. I had read almost everything known to mankind regarding Everest over decades preceding my trip. Watched every movie and documentary too. Even poorly made ones like EVEREST, staring William Shatner and that Beverly Hills 90210 guy Jason Priestly. I think the only reason Shatner was in it was because it was about Canadian climbers and was so low budget that nobody would watch it without a name like his attached. Likewise for Priestley’s participation.
For my upcoming trip, I had only a cursory knowledge of Peru and its ancient Inca civilization. I had a class in undergrad that made me a little more aware of the Aztecs and Incas in the Americas. I had seen a documentary or two but I was a passive participant. When I had announced to the family that I would do the Inca Trail I had no idea what I did not know. My brother gave me the gift of the book “Turn Right at Machu Picchu”. It was a difficult read because the author simply sucked. In between the information about Hiram Bingham, his own story about him and his son retracing Bingham’s steps to discovery was flat, boring, corny and dull. Yes. All of those. Then one of my online friends at Trailspace who had been to Machu Picchu suggested I read “The White Rock” by Hugh Thomson. So I did. And I also read “A Sacred Landscape”, also by Thomson. I was thrown into the world that I soon would be visiting with full force. Both books were packed with history, geography, angst and adventure. I have started to be able to see the environs and the people in my minds eye. I hear their music. No, I do. Because I have several cds on my iPod with traditional pan flute music. FACTOID: Simon and Garfunkle’s song “If I Could” is actually an old Peruvian traditional song called El Condor Pasa“. Oh. You knew that already? I didn’t. That is how little I know of anything Peruvian.
Another pop culture fact a out Machu Picchu has to do with the persona of Hiram Bingham. The lead character in Raiders of the Lost Ark played by Harrison Ford is fashioned after him. Right down to the hat. I have one of those hats to bring with me for the trip! I am silly like that.
So with a little more than two months before Maggie and I get on the plane and make our way south, through Miami, to Lima and then on to Cusco, I am reading books, watching documentaries and listening to music. There will be no danger of me leaving my mind behind!
Much of my adult life and some of my childhood has been spent with the battle of the bulge raging. Like any war, there are times when battles are heated and times when there is not a lot going on. Times when I am winning, and times when I am losing. It is a tug of war that I consider the thorn in my flesh that the Apostle Paul refers to. There are many reasons that even outside the obvious health concerns, being big sucks. One thing I have learned over the years is I am GOOD at being fat. I am not so good at being thin. This is evidenced by the fact that when I have achieved victory, it is short-lived whereas the plumper times of life endure. The world is not built for larger people. And in a society where people are getting even larger, we push and push the look of anorexia over health. Marilyn Monroe would probably be made fun of in the tabloids for her weight if she had been born 15 years later. People are getting bigger while airplane seats get smaller, theater seats get smaller, cloths are skimpier. On the other hand, in the midst of the battle to overcome obesity in America, go out to eat at any restaurant and the plates are overflowing with carb rich dishes that are big enough to feed a family of four in the 50’s. I remember going to McDonald’s with my parents when I was 4. It was such a treat because going out to eat was not something that happened on a regular basis. We each got a hamburger or cheeseburger, what is now a small fry and a small drink. Dad got a large drink, which was the 16 ouncer. Considered HUGE at the time. He got a McDouble. Now, just to put that in perspective, each of the patties on a McDonald’s Hamburger is 1.6 oz. prior to cooking. There are 10 patties to a pound of burger. So Dad was getting about three oz. of meat. We couldn’t finish ours and maybe dad finished them for us, I cannot remember. But he didn’t get two or three for himself. And the bread he got was the same as us as opposed to a giant bun filled with two 1/4 pound patties. People who battle weight live in a world that tells them how bad they are, yet throws cheap, unhealthy, tasty food at them all day, 24/7/365.
I have blogged before and talked about my sedentary years and massive weight gain and debilitating back pain. Rather than go through all of that again, suffice it to say that after enjoying high school and college years being extremely active in sports and marching band, I sat down and didn’t get up for about 16 years. I would always dream about the things I would do if I could only lose the weight. “When I lose my weight I am going to: Hike, bike again, play ball, kayak, travel, shop more, wear cool cloths and be happy.” That is all I had to do. Some day. Meanwhile I tried every fad diet there was with little to no long term success.
Then it hit me: I did not have to wait until I was “thin” ( whatever that really is) to do those things. After all, I am not dead yet! So I started moving again. Did some 5k walks and bought a Kayak. From 43 to 53 I have done all my hiking, climbing, trekking, kayaking adventures as a big girl. Some times bigger than others, but never at what would be considered anywhere NEAR a healthy weight. I can only imagine the last 10 years without having had that epiphany. Certainly it would have been imminently more difficult to start at 53. But even then, I think I would have. We don’t have to look a certain way or be able to do things at a high level in order to enjoy them, enjoy the health benefits and live our lives. I am slower than the lighter and/or younger folks, but I still finish. I have had people look at me when I say what adventure I am off to next and actually ask if I am doing anything to lose weight before I go. As if those skin flints know at all what it is like to be big and if big people even feel any different from them whilst active. Some just plain look at me in disbelief. You can see the “THIS PERSON IS A B.S.er” sign flash on their foreheads. By the way, did you know Shakespeare invented the word forehead?
Truth is I do try to be healthier these days. Micky D’s and I broke up and I am now an aficionado of the paleo style of eating. Good fats, meat and lots of veggies, nuts and seeds. My beloved bread is gone now and even though I still do struggle with weight, I am healthy. I know this because my doctor monitors my health and she is a great doctor.
Me and Maggie leave for Machu Picchu August 30, 2014. I have not got near as much weight off as I would like, but I am working hard every day eating right and walking at work break, hiking at night. I am not waiting to wake up one day and find that I am suddenly thin. I may never be thin. But each day that passes is one I could have lived more. If I do not make the choice to have fun now, it will pass like a blink of an eye and I will be left with regrets. Don’t sell yourself short. Live now, rest later. :)